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   Cruise Travel - Reader Reviews

Welcome to Your Favorites, where you have the opportunity to share your travel experiences with fellow Internet Travelers around the world.

Festival Cruises

MS Azur

Your Rating:One Stars
Reviewed by: Graham Deakin
# previous cruises: 3
Date of Trip: January 17, 2004
Itinerary: Mediterranean

Avoid this ship and Festival Cruises at ALL costs! The ship is an aging converted ferry boat that is noisy and allegedly prone to 'technical problems'. We found the food of good quality and the general crew were always friendly and polite. The restaurant staff were very attentive and multi-lingual.

Public Areas
The ship was 75% full which ensured adequate seating around all areas. The outside decks are somewhat worn and due to the nature of layout there was only one deck which allowed an uninterrupted circular walk. Both 'pools' were closed due to time of year, however both were extremely small. There is a 'cinema' generally showing well used videos and those that are several years old - we watched A Few Good Men, The American President, Billy Elliot, Universal Soldier and Moulding Rouge (to give you an idea what is on offer). The cinema could seat between 150-200 people, at a guess... it was a little cold in there, so we had to use a blanket!

Food and Service
The food was of a good quality and the waiters very polite and attentive. There was sufficient choice, particularly at dinner time. For more informal dining a buffet was available in a separate dining area. As a non-meat eater I was catered for well each night. A good selection of salads but a little repetitive after a week!

We were on the 'sports deck' just above the engine - and didn't we know it!! The cabin was adequate and reflective of what we paid (#350 each for 10 day cruise). The shower room was ok, more than enough room for a decent shower - plenty of hot water 24 hours a day. The cabin was cleaned daily and towels replenished twice a day!! Our cabin steward was polite and thorough.

We only saw one show, to be fair it wasn't to our taste so it would be unfair to pass too many comments. The low ceilings gave a cramped feel to the show... The 'animation team' tried their best to be fair to them.

Now this is where the problems begin... The itinerary stated that we were to stop at Dubrovnik. Katakolon, Alexandria, Limassol, Antalyia, Rhodes, Piraeus and travel through the Corinth Canal ending back in Venice. Dubrovnik - nice but closed (4hrs stay) 20 min walk from port.

Katakolon - 4hrs to allow trip to Olympia but little to do if you stayed in port. Alexandria - very filthy 12 hours in port to allow trip to Cairo. The pyramids, Sphinx were wonderful to see (especially after 3 hour coach trip from port) but spoiled by the number of hawkers trying to sell you head wear, postcards etc... Trip to Sakkara was ok.... less peddlers. 3 hours back to port.

Limassol - heavens opened and we got soaked! Force ten gale left us docked overnight (rather than the 4 hours we were supposed to be there) in a less than pleasant port. Due to the poor weather in the area we were told that we would not be travelling to Antalyia (Turkey) where severe weather problems were reported. We were then informed that due to the ship struggling through rough seas, the engine was damaged and we would be unable to travel to Rhodes. Instead we arrived at Crete (3 hours later than suggested) at 4.30 Saturday evening - most places closed, raining and going dark - 3 hour stop - no time to visit Knossos. Upon our return we discover that we would be sailing direct to Venice due to poor weather and damaged propulsion!!

Everyone VERY upset - next to no information forthcoming from senior crew. Messages from home revealed Festival Cruises in financial difficulties and 3 ships impounded. Reception desk deluged by discontented and angry passengers. 61 hours sail back to Venice - did not go to Piraeus (Athens) nor sail thru Corinth Canal. Some rumors suggest only 3 of previous 15 trips went thru canal as fees have to be paid 'up-front'.

Last day - due to arrive at Venice at 6 am to disembark for 9am allowing 6hrs in Venice. Boat anchored in fog for an hour or so - NO information from Captain. I contacted British Counsel to be informed we were not docking at Venice but at a port 2hrs drive away. Missed Venice completely - near enough 3 hrs to get to airport (some coaches almost had to ask passengers for money to pay toll fees!!!!!!!).

There was a dreadful lack of honest and timely information from the Captain, who was sadly lacking in his presence once problems occurred. Passengers had more information thru mobile phones than the crew had. No mention of financial problems as the reason the ship failed to dock in over half the planned ports - the excuse that damaged engine and poor weather resulted in a speed reduced from 18 knots to 12 then back to 15 knots and this resulted in missing Antalyia, Rhodes, Piraeus, Corinth Canal and finally Venice is unacceptable.

This was a dreadful cruise - my first and my partners third. The staff tried their best but stated off the record they were very unhappy with Festival Cruises. I can understand weather conditions forcing itinerary changes but I cannot believe the reasons we were given re: engine damage. Many passengers felt lied to, deceived and cheated - most felt the lack of information compounded a difficult time for us all.

I will never travel with Festival Cruises again. I advise you strongly to avoid this company.....

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